What is Morphing? How to Morph Faces & Images

by Chris Von Wilpert, BBusMan • Last updated January 30, 2024

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What is morphing?

Morphing is a technique that creates a new face from two or more facial images. Morphing is easy with AI apps and people love the funny effect. But morphing also also has a more serious side and can even lead to criminal implications.

Morphing fast facts

  • Filters on social media apps are the easiest way to create a face morphing effect.

  • AI face morphing apps generate more realistics results than filters of TikTok, Instagram and so on.

  • Entertainment is not the only application of face morphing. It is also used for criminal investigations, the medical world, marketing, and identity theft.

  • Face morphing slightly differs from deepfakes, face swaps, and animations.

  • Choosing the right app and facial images are vital to create impressive face morphs.

Morphing the face of a celebrity with one’s own can create funny effects. Photograph: DeepSwap

How to do a face morph effect?

Face morph effects can be done in different ways. The easiest and most popular one is to use an AI face morphing app. Users can upload pictures of faces and the app merges the two faces into a new one.

Another way to create a morph effect is by using filters of social media apps. TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat, for example, allow users to create the effect with the click of a button. 

Advanced design software, like Adobe Photoshop, is another option. It is mainly popular amongst experienced designers who want to have complete control over all the details of the morph.

How is face morphing done?

Face morphing requires very complex AI image processes and typically starts with identifying the main parts of the two faces, like eyes, mouth, nose, chin, and so on.

Then the AI model marks these with so-called key points. These are used to identify resemblances on both faces. The common features are then combined into a new face, which typically also has another shape than the originals.

In the last step, the AI model generates frames that visualize the smooth transition from the original faces into the new one.

Is there an app to morph faces together?

Yes, there are many apps that morph faces together. The most popular ones are:

  1. Faceswap allows users to swap faces to create funny or professional images. It can also create morphing videos from pictures. 
  2. TalkingFaces is an app for businesses that want to create human avatars with a face that appeals to their audience. The new face can then be used in videos for a website, social media, YouTube and so on.
  3. DeepSwap is a popular face morphing app that can create face morphing images and videos in real-time without technical expertise.

Face morphs are hard to distinguish from the originals. Photograph: FaceSwap

What are some tips for creating a realistic face mashup?

The most important tip to create a realistic face mashup is to use software that allows users to control the process. Filters for social media apps, for example, can generate funny face mashups, but it is easy to see they are fake. 

A second tip is to choose facial images carefully. The higher the quality, the better the mashup will look. But also details like the same position of the head on the images, the shadows and lights, and the background play a role in how realistic the mashup will be.

A final tip is to follow the instructions of face morphing apps, but don’t be afraid to experiment with settings and techniques. In some tools, for example, you can change the skin color and brightness before the AI generates the face mashup.

What are some common mistakes of face morphing?

Even the best face morphing apps can generate low-quality and unrealistic results. That can be because of the typical beginner’s mistake of using images with different lighting and angles. The AI then finds it hard to look for similarities between the faces.

Another mistake is using images with different facial proportions. That can create funny effects when, for example, the face of an animal and a human are morphed. But for human faces, it usually results in distorted faces. 

A final mistake is to ignore the skin tone and texture. If the differences between both images are huge, the result can look unnatural.

Why is morphing used?

Face morphing is used for many reasons, including:

  • Morphing faces with friends, family, celebrities and even animals can be funny and people use it as a creative way to express themselves. 
  • The technique is used to create special effects in movies, TV shows, and video games. It is effective to visualize transformations of characters, like aging or transforming into a superhero. 
  • In the medical world, morphing is used to visualize the progression of aging or disease. It can also help people to imagine how plastic surgery will change their face. 
  • Morphing is also used in criminal investigations. It can create aged images of persons who have disappeared for a long time. 
  • Face morphing can be abused to create deepfakes and spread misinformation or damage someone’s reputation.
  • Morphing is also abused for identity theft and to bypass facial recognition software.

Businesses use morphing to create human avatars for marketing videos. Photograph: TalkingFaces

What is the difference between animation and morphing?

Animation and morphing both create the illusion of movement, but there are some important differences:

  • Morphing focuses on the transition between two or more images that blend into, for example, a new face. Animation is used in, for example, cartoons, to create the illusion of movement.
  • Animation is typically created with individual frames that are shown rapidly after each other. Morphing relies on AI that analyzes and blends common features of two or more images into a new one.
  • The length of animations can vary from seconds to hours. Morphing transitions last a few seconds at most.
  • Animations are used in TV shows, movies, advertisements, educational material and so on. Morphings can be used as a special effect in animations, but usually it is created as a standalone visualization.

What is the difference between face swap and morphing?

Face swap and morphing are both techniques to change faces on images and videos, but there is a difference. 

Face swapping completely replaces one face in an image or video with another one. You can best picture it as replacing all pixels from one face with the pixels of the other face.

Face morphing combines two faces into a new one. This is a more complex process than face swapping. It involves detecting similarities between two images and blending them together smoothly. Face morphing can create more realistic images than face swaps, although the morphed faces do not exist in reality.

AI can swap faces instantly and generate realistic images and videos. Photograph: FaceSwap

What is the difference between morph and deepfake?

Morphs and deepfakes are both created by AI that blends existing images and videos into a new one. The biggest difference lies in the reason why people create them.

Morphing is often used to entertain. To viewers, it is obvious that the result is not real. Think, for example, of morphing faces to illustrate to patients what plastic surgery can mean for them.

Deepfakes are made to make people believe that what they are seeing is real. They are often made to deceive, harass or discredit the depicted persons.

What are morphing attacks?

Morphing attacks use face morphing technology to bypass security systems that are based on facial recognition. 

Attackers create a morph from facial pictures they grab from, for example, social media and a picture of their own face. Then they create fake documents with the morph and use it to bypass facial recognition systems in buildings, offices, and so on. 

Morphing attacks mostly work when the facial recognition software is not advanced and when it is the only system in place to deny or grant access to secured places.

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